Blinken congratulates new Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

US secretary of state reaffirms 'value' of friendship between two nations

The US has congratulated new Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirming the "value" of the relationship between the two nations.

Mr Blinken's statement comes after a parliamentary no-confidence vote against predecessor Imran Khan, who claimed Washington engineered his dismissal.

"Pakistan has been an important partner on wide-ranging mutual interests for nearly 75 years and we value our relationship," Mr Blinken said. "The United States congratulates newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and we look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation.

"The United States views a strong, prosperous and democratic Pakistan as essential for the interests of both our countries."

Mr Blinken's statement came two days after the western-friendly Mr Sharif, 70, took the oath of office following days of political turmoil leading to Mr Khan's dismissal in Pakistan's first no-confidence vote since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Mr Khan, 69, a former cricket-star-turned-politician, sought to derail the vote by dissolving parliament and calling early elections after claiming Washington was colluding with his opponents to oust him.

The US denied the accusation.

Pakistan's highest court declared Mr Khan's actions unconstitutional and ordered the vote to proceed. A majority of parliament's lower house supported his ouster on Sunday.

Despite Mr Blinken's warm tone, analysts told Reuters they do not expect Washington to seek a significant broadening of ties, but to remain mostly focused on security co-operation, especially on counterterrorism and Afghanistan.

Analysts said they expected Mr Sharif, the brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to be preoccupied with pressing domestic issues, especially trying to contain a serious economic crisis.

Updated: April 14, 2022, 4:42 AM
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